Today President Bush downplayed the importance of the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina hitting the Gulf Coast, saying, “a one-year anniversary is just that.” Following is reaction from Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.), top Democrat on the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship:

“The President's suggestion that the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina is not significant is indicative of this administration's approach to the disaster response from day-one. From Brownie's heck-of-a-job a year ago straight through to the debris that still litters the streets of New Orleans, the administration continues to make excuses for its failed response. Instead of downplaying the anniversary as an attempt to keep his approval ratings from going down, the President should set deadlines and demand real solutions to get the job done. No more talk. The President needs to take responsibility and provide more than empty promises and feel-good press conferences.

“Today, one year after the most devastating American natural disaster in a generation, minimal improvements have been made. No one said recovery would be quick and easy. But for businesses and homeowners, only 23 percent of SBA disaster loans have made it into the hands of residents to rebuild their communities. We’ve got the money and the brains in this country to get the Gulf Coast back on its feet and it’s inexcusable that President Bush hasn’t brought the right people together to make it happen.”